Saturday, January 30, 2016

OSLA Award for Special Achievement

The Ontario School Library Association has honoured Treasure Mountain Canada with its Award for Special Achievement. The award honours individuals or organizations outside individual schools or school boards which have provided significant support to teacher-librarians and school library development in Ontario through exceptional projects and activities.

OSLA 2015 President Jeanne Conte (L) and James Saunders of Saunders Book Company (R) present the OSLA Award for Special Achievement to TMC's Dr. David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin and Liz Kerr.

The award honours the exceptional achievement of TMC in fostering scholarship and action research into school library learning commons practice in Canada, and for being the incubator for the Leading Learning Project. 

The objectives of Treasure Mountain are to: 
  • Address learning for the future
  • Support the reinvention of school libraries to address the evolving information and technology needs of learning for the future.
  • Invite researchers, school library practitioners, educational leaders and policy-makers to collaborate and move forward together
  • Collaboratively explore ideas, inspire each other and build collective knowledge of the learning commons approach as sustainable school improvement.
  • Analyze the Canadian research available and encourage further academic and site based research.
  • Alert the school community and the education community of the urgent need to refocus learning for the future and ignite the potential of school library learning commons.

Our sincere congratulations and thanks go to David, Carol and Liz for their extraordinary vision in bringing Treasure Mountain to Canada, and for its extraordinary accomplishments over the past six years!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Enjoy the Papers and Participate in TMC4

Welcome to our school library community from sea to sea. We look forward to welcoming you in person in Toronto or virtually from around Canada. To participate virtually follow this blog, and Twitter #TMCanada2016.

The goal of TM Canada is to make the school library a key area of academic debate.
Treasure Mountain Canada has fostered much research over the past few years, and each symposium moves us forward in our practice. TMC4 in Toronto focuses on deeper implementation of the National Standards, and evidence that the standards are making an impact on teaching and learning in Canada. We have organized the papers with three broad strands for your consideration as we study the impact so far and plan for the future.

Growing Impact of Leading Learning:
Standards of Practice for School Libraries in Canada
•           Co-teaching for Deeper Learning
•           Innovation for Learning
•           Building a Learning Community

We invite writers and participants to study the papers and reflect on the connections they find to their work in schools to transform libraries to Library Learning Commons. 
Consider how these papers reflect what is and what is to come.
Consider the potential Leading Learning has to ensure teaching and learning growth.
Consider our future learners!

Learners have a right to expect good school libraries in every school in Canada. Leading Learning:Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Do We Need a New National School Library Association?

That is the question that will drive a special post-TMC discussion on Saturday January 30, 2016 from 3:30 to 5:00. The proposed dissolution of the Canadian Library Association exacerbates the already existing threat to a cohesive national school library community and puts the growth of national projects at risk. Yet forming a new association is itself a potentially risky venture. The purpose of the discussion is to consider the opportunities and the threats, and determine whether there is indeed enough interest and support for forming a new association. If so, the next step is to form a working group to conduct further research and draw up a proposal to put to the wider school library community.

In preparation for this discussion, Anita Brooks Kirkland has written a paper titled, Toward a New National School Library Association: The Case, Considerations, and Potential Models. The paper details the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of various models that might be considered.

We encourage everyone attending TMC who is interested in this discussion to stay for the special extended session. It would be very helpful for participants to read the paper in advance of the discussion.

The full paper is available for download here.

Here is the paper's introduction, for your immediate consideration.

Over the past decade, there have been ever increasing challenges in sustaining a cohesive school library network across Canada. We arrive in 2016 at a point where what remains may cease to exist entirely, with the proposed and indeed probable dissolution of the Canadian Library Association (CLA).  Informal discussions amongst school library leaders from across Canada demonstrate considerable interest in establishing a new national school library association.  

The dissolution of the CLA poses an immediate and real threat to the continued publication of its online journal, School Libraries in Canada. It presents at the very least a weakened base of support for initiatives related to Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada (CLA, 2014). Voices for School Libraries, a network that exists under the auspices of the CLA will lose its home base, and a national home base for our research symposium, Treasure Mountain Canada, ceases to be a possibility. While the proposed new Federation of Canadian Library Associations, which will most likely replace CLA, will have advocacy as its focus, the voice of the school library sector may be weakened even further as a consequence of the new association’s proposed structure.

While the risks of not establishing a new national school library association are huge, the risks inherent in creating a new association are very real, too. It is one thing to have compelling reasons for moving forward, but without careful consideration of the practicalities involved, any attempt may be doomed to failure. 

The purpose of this paper is to explore the goals that might frame the creation of a new association, explore philosophical and practical considerations, and suggest an action plan for moving forward.  This is an “eyes wide open” approach. Good will and enthusiasm can take us so far, but it is extremely important to explore the strengths and weaknesses of various organizational approaches. The opportunities for advancing school libraries that might be realized by a new national association may be significant, but the external factors that might put those opportunities at risk also need to be clearly understood. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

MARC: Mentoring, Accountability, Research, Community

Treasure Mountain Canada has fostered much research over the past few years, and each symposium moves us forward in our practice. At TMC 2016 we will be focusing on the growing impact of
Leading Learning: Standards of Practice for School Library Learning Commons in Canada. Of course Leading Learning is in part a product of the work of past TMC symposia. For TMC 2014, Judith Sykes, a leading expert on action research and a project leader for Leading Learning, wrote a paper delving into the factors for sustainable development of the school library learning commons: a perfect set-up for this year's symposium. 

Leading Learning + MARC = Sustainability

With a clever play on acronyms, Sykes alludes to MARC, which library practitioners will recognize as standing for machine readable cataloguing. Sykes' MARC stands for the factors she sees as critical for ensuring sustainable development of school library learning commons practice: Mentoring, Accountability, Research, Community. MARC helps to move past the vagaries of political change and shifting priorities that frequently undermine sustainability.

M - Mentoring: Much research cites the critical role of a supportive principal for developing an effective SLLC. Sykes makes a strong case for much stronger emphasis on the ongoing mentorship role that should be a focus of the principal's practice. True mentorship supports continuous learning and program growth. 

A - Accountability: Efforts to implement learning commons pedagogy across a school is often undermined by educators' perception of this as an "add-on", undermining their ability to cover the curriculum. Sykes firmly plants learning commons pedagogy into the mainstream of the current shift to inquiry learning across Canada's educational jurisdictions. She encourages us to fully understand how learning commons expectations connect to broader education priorities, and to be accountable for practice by embedding program assessment into practice, grounding that assessment in student learning. 

R - Research: Action research should be embedded into practice, to truly understand what works and what doesn't work. That research should inform ongoing practice, and be shared amongst the broader community of teachers. "Gathering evidence does not need to be time consuming or 'yet another thing to do' but needs to become a way of thinking about teaching and learning in a reflective, strategic and data based fashion."

C - Community: Sykes positions community as the most vital part of her MARC model.  Collaboration within the school community, the SLLC team and across professional learning communities is critical for sustaining school improvement initiatives. She explores the competencies of successful teams, and makes strong connections to Leading Learning's advice for moving forward with the school library learning commons. 

Sykes offers great advice for sustaining the "joyful pedagogy" of Leading Learning. Schools and school districts that frame the development of the SLLC within a sustainable MARC approach can make a greater difference over time, ensuring that all students in Canada can indeed expect to find good libraries in every school in Canada.